Hospice organizations focus on the care - not a cure - for the patient, as well as support to the patient's loved ones. If your organization operates a hospice, you are in a unique position to affect quality of life in your communities.
By making sure your organization has appropriate insurance protection, you can keep your focus on the important services you provide to patients and their families. Take time to review the declarations page of your insurance policy. Many policies contain a professional liability deductible. These deductibles can be sizeable, so it's important to maintain a line item in your operating budget to account for this exposure.
Here are some insurance coverages to consider, but each organization is unique. Talk to your local, independent insurance agent and your legal adviser for information specific to your situation.
MANAGEMENT LIABILITY (D&O)
Healthcare Institutions Directors & Officers Liability (D&O) coverage protects management of hospices and their subsidiaries - including past, present and future directors, officers, trustees, administrators, employees, volunteers and members of boards or committees - against alleged wrongdoings. In the hospice industry, managers must direct peer review committees and quality of care and staff privileges. Periodic training regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) is essential for healthcare-related organizations. These duties and others put hospices at risk for D&O claims, such as written demands for monetary damages, formal administrative actions, civil suits and regulatory proceedings.
D&O claims cannot be taken lightly, as they can quickly become costly. Examples include: alleged improper billing and collection practices, former business partner separations and severance disputes, breach of duty and denial of clinical privileges.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance is another crucial coverage for hospice organizations, along with third-party EPLI coverage. Claims can potentially include discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. Sex and race discrimination are the most common types of EPLI discrimination claims in the workplace. For example, in the hospice industry, a highly paid nurse replaced by a younger, lower paid nurse could sue for age discrimination.
Don't overlook the threat of cyber-related incidents, and look for insurance coverage to protect the hospice from data beaches, identity theft, computer attacks, network security liability and cyber extortion. Thousands of patient names and Social Security numbers have the potential to be exposed due to security breach of a hospice computer server or as the result of a computer virus.
Sexual abuse and molestation coverage is an important area to review. Many policies provide vicarious coverage only, meaning only the hospice organization itself is protected; no coverage is included for a specific employee or volunteer worker. This can create a conflict if a claim against a worker goes to trial. You can determine if an employee or volunteer worker is covered by looking at the coverage form under 'Who is an Insured.' Look to see if the sexual abuse molestation coverage is included within the general liability coverage of the policy or as a separate item. If it's included, then sexual abuse and molestation coverage must share the limits with other liability losses. Separate coverage usually means separate limits exist. Ask your agent if you are in doubt.
By taking care of key insurance coverage, you can protect your hospice organization and turn your efforts to serving your patients, their families and the community.
Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your independent agent.